Touching the bar

The end of October signals the clocks going back, Halloween and the run up to Bonfire night. It also signals another Keynote event from Apple. As a freelance designer, I rely on my Macbook Pro and it suffers from heavy usage on a daily basis. So I was really looking forward to seeing what Apple was going to do with the 2016 model. 

On Thursday, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, released the latest range of new MacBook Pro's featuring a touch bar (which they "accidently" leaked), an enhanced performance boost and an enlarged trackpad. Check it out below:

First the positives. The spec bump is amazing. The top of the range 15 inch Macbook Pro with 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, Radeon Pro 455 with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and 16GB RAM wipes the floor with the previous Macbook. And the design of it is gorgeous. Its thinner, slicker, available in two finishes and the trackpad is double the size. Now I know most people will think, but I use a mouse so why do I need such a big trackpad? Well when working on the go (which I do quite frequently), sometimes workspace is at a premium and you may have little choice but to use the trackpad. Personally, I don't mind as I'm used to working solely with the trackpad (but if I have the space, the Magic Mouse is out). 

The new touch bar looks like it will definitely be of practical use and not just another gimmick with seamless integration with all the Adobe Creative Cloud products.

Now the negatives... 4 USB-C ports! Really?! So I can no longer plug in the superdrive, 2TB portable hard drive and the several 32GB USB sticks I have without a dongle? Thanks Tim!

Apple have also decided it deems the HDMI port obsolete. So that's not getting hooked up to my 40" HDMI TV without... a dongle! Ok I can Airplay to Apple TV at home but what if I need to present to a client on-site?

Next, no SD card slot. Ok this doesn't affect me as much but if Apple was going out of there way to piss off professional photographers they've succeeded! But don't worry, if you have to plug one in, you can always use an SD-card reader... oh wait... you'll need a dongle with that!

But with USB-C you can plug in up to two USB-C displays and two USB-RAID drives. Great! So say I do that, how do I charge the Macbook. That's right everyone... A DONGLE!

Do you know how many dongles I have to use with my current Macbook Pro... one! And that is to plug a standard screen into my Thunderbolt port. So will a spec bump and touch bar convince me to part with the better part of £3,000 to upgrade my laptop... not this time! Which is great because my current MacBook Pro has actually increased in price on the Apple Store!

So what else could you spend £3,000 on? Well the day before the Apple Keynote, Microsoft launched this:

The Surface Studio unveil dazzled with a dramatic cover of "Pure Imagination". Behind the scenes, Microsoft used a robotic camera arm to capture the ad controlled by an Xbox One controller of all things!

The angles you can now work at on the Surface Studio means you can now realistically sketch ideas directly on your work desktop and then adjust the angle to then refine your ideas. The new Surface Dial is a nice touch as well. The ability to use it to adjust the colour spectrum, size of brushes, etc without interrupting your workflow makes this a great tool.

In comparison to the latest range of iMac's, this holds its own against most models, even the 4K display models. Only the top of the line 27" model edges ahead thanks to its 5K retina display.

The only thing going against the Surface Studio vs the iMac is the operating system! The release of Sierra means Apple's MacOS is still far superior to Windows 10.

Where the Surface Studio does have the iMac beat is in the design... it's bold, it's beautiful and innovating! Yes I just said that about a Microsoft product! This level of innovation is where the iMac should have been by now!

Lets not forget, ever since the Apple II, Mac's have always been the prefered tool of the creatives. I'm talking designers, artists, video editors, photographers, etc. Ok, the iMac was the first 'all in one' computer that was marketed to 'everyone' built with access to the internet as its core function. But the design has always been cutting edge and each release raised the bar. Somewhere along the way, Apple has forgotten this in it's pursuit of the smartphone and tablet market. Since 2013 in fact (the last time the Mac Pro was updated I might add) for some reason the desktop machine has stopped innovating.

With Google making waves in the smartphone market with it's Pixel (with reviewers praising the camera in particular) and now Microsoft finally making a decent computer to rival the Mac, maybe now is the time for Apple to put their thinking caps back on and start raising that bar!